Minnesota has long been a leader in the field of domestic violence. Minnesota had the first battered women's shelter in the country. The Duluth Model for batterer intervention is used internationally.

Programs operated by members of the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women (MCBW) include shelters and safe homes, community advocacy programs, criminal justice intervention projects, state and national training and technical assistance organizations, human rights organizations and homeless shelter.

All of these services are critical in providing safety within our communities. The services provide 24-hour crisis lines, safe shelter, advocacy and support services as well as education programming in schools and for the general public.

The State of Minnesota is one of the primary funding sources for domestic violence programs. State dollars are awarded through a grant process with the Department of Public Safety - Office of Justice Programs (OJP).

In July 2012, grants were awarded for the coming fiscal year, which began Oct. 1. This year, the state had $1.5 million less in funds for the OJP awards.

In addition to the reduction in funds, the OJP had a new grant process that meant that more programs were eligible to apply for funding than had been true for many years. The result was that there were more programs competing for substantially fewer dollars.

Many domestic violence programs received substantial reductions in the grant awards received from the OJP. There were a number of programs that received reductions between 20 - 50 percent from their previous grants. A few programs lost all of their state funding.

The change in state funding has meant that programs need to find alternative ways to support the essential work that they are doing in communities.

Bluff Country Family Resources (BCFR) in Hokah lost 54 percent of its state funding through OJP. It's nationally recognized Children's Program has been completely de-funded. And BCFR lost a percentage of its Domestic Violence and Sexual Violence program as well.

Because of this large cut, BCFR has had to unfortunately let go of one of its valued employees, as well as shift and change job descriptions and duties.

While the funding is limited, the need continues to increase. BCFR has had a substantial increase in need, and less funding to answer it.

BCFR is a member of the MCBW, and next month, MCBW and the local domestic violence programs will be rolling out their Act for Impact: Create Safety campaign, which invites the public to become part of the solution, to be part of the campaign to create safety in our local communities.

The campaign will ask people to financially support the work of domestic violence organizations, to volunteer their time to this work and to have a heightened awareness of the issue and speak about violence and healthy relationships.

If you have any questions or would like to get involved with the Act for Impact: Create Safety campaign, contact Bluff Country Family Resources at (507) 894-2676 or contact the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women directly toll-free at 1-800-289-6177.

Sarah Utley-Wells

Adult Program Coordinator

BCFR in Hokak